Gray gets four game ban for ‘homophobic’ tweets


London (AFP) – Burnley striker Andre Gray will serve a four match suspension after being found guilty of misconduct for homophobic comments he posted on Twitter in 2012, England’s Football Association announced on Friday.

The 25-year-old published the tweets when he was a non-league player in 2012, but they resurfaced on social media after he scored in Burnley’s 2-0 home win over Liverpool in the Premier League last month.

One tweet read: “Is it me or are there gays everywhere? #Burn #Die #Makesmesick.”.

Gray admitted he had breached FA regulations for three of the six postings he was called to account for but denied the others were — the FA thought otherwise. 

“Burnley forward Andre Gray has been suspended for four matches commencing with immediate effect for misconduct in respect of social media comments,” read the FA statement.

“It was alleged that six postings on his Twitter account were abusive and/or insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute contrary to Rule E3(1).

“It was further alleged that these breaches of Rule E3(1) included a reference to sexual orientation and/or gender and/or colour and/or race contrary to Rule E3(2).

“The player admitted to three of the breaches, and denied the remaining three were in breach of FA Rules.

“Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing yesterday [22 September 2016], the remaining three breaches were found proven.

“The player was also fined £25,000 ($32,400, 28,800euros) warned as to his future conduct and ordered to attend an FA education course.”

Gray’s ban is immediate, meaning he will miss Burnley’s Premier League game at home to Watford on Monday followed by fixtures with Arsenal, Southampton and Everton.

Burnley said they and Gray, who was playing for non-league side Hinckley United when he made the offensive tweets, accepted the FA’s verdict. 

“Burnley Football Club and Gray accept the Independent Regulatory Commission’s decision, which relate to historical posts made before Andre joined the club in August, 2015,” read the club statement.

“Gray himself regrets the posts and has pledged, in an apology, to continue to improve, both as a person and role model to others.

“We believe this charge, regarding historical social media posts, should now also serve as a warning to all professional footballers, and participants in the wider sporting field.”

Gray, last season’s Championship Player of the Year, had apologised prior to being charged with misconduct when they came to light. 

In his apology, posted on Twitter, Gray wrote: “I have a lot of regrets regarding a number of things I’ve done in the past and realise I have made some big mistakes, none more so than these tweets, but I would like to stress that I’ve worked incredibly hard to completely transform my life since that time.

“To clarify, I do not hold the beliefs written in those tweets whatsoever.

“I can assure everybody that I am absolutely not homophobic and as said previously I can only apologise and ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended.”

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